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The Crack Magazine


Autobibliography by Rob Doyle

Rob Doyle’s Autobibliography? The kind of book you repeatedly throw across the room only to scamper after it like a dog retrieving a ball. Maddening and beguiling in equal measure, it’s about the year he spent rereading his favourite books. Fifty-two short reviews interspersed with thoughts on life, literature and everything in between. Normally books like this are designed to dip into as they tend towards a ho-hum median. Anyone who’s aware of Rob Doyle’s oeuvre, of course, knows that he’s incapable of an average sentence, paragraph, page. He’s exasperating, provocative, arrogant, but gets away with it because he’s, well, a brilliant writer. How about this: “In my twenties, I didn’t read the canonical American alpha novels of the twentieth century - your Roths and Updikes and Bellows. They looked to me too much like long-ball games, prudent 4-4-2 strategies, one-nil wins by stoic and sensible squads. Those books may well have been great, but they seemed ordinary despite, or perhaps because of, this aura of established, stolid greatness. Latin American literature by contrast favoured play, kink, invention, flair, fancy footwork.” The greatest football/writing analogy ever? Not that there’s anything unusual about this kind of excellence, Autobibliography is full of it. As alluded to, he’s sometimes so full of it you find yourself mumbling, oh, fuck off, Rob - then a few pages later - actually, mate, you may have a point. At least half of Rob’s problem is that the world doesn’t like clever bastards, but it’s exactly this that makes Autobibliography absolutely essential.

Autobibliography– Rob Doyle – publ. by Swift Press - £12.99

Steven Long